By Tonya Marie Amos | For Aspire Pilates Center
Did you know that Pilates is incredible cross training for any sport? Perhaps you always thought that Pilates is “just for girls”?
Actually, Joseph Pilates was a professional boxer. Beginning in early 19th century Germany, Mr. Pilates extensively trained boxers, wrestlers, gymnasts, circus artists, dancers, actors and police officers. In our era, Joseph & Clara Pilates’ work has been embraced by professional athletes of every sport. Standout NFL receiver Antonio Brown, tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams, Tiger Woods, John England, the New Jersey Nets, Orlando Magic and many others all use Pilates as an integral part of their training.
Pilates is a method designed to strengthen the core, while increasing whole body strength, flexibility, balance and healthy body mechanics.
Many commonly used training regimens utilize high repetitions with heavy weights, followed by stretching (hopefully) to prevent the tightening of muscles. In contrast, Pilates emphasizes short reps focused on perfect form and the “eccentric” contraction of the muscle. (An eccentric contraction occurs when the powerful work of a muscle happens while it is lengthening rather than shortening.) Flexibility is interwoven with balance in each exercise, and an “inside-out” approach to strengthening is used “” working the deep muscles that stabilize the joints before addressing the superficial muscles.
The result is a fantastic workout, newly found body awareness and a re-training of faulty body mechanics. And solid, healthy body mechanics create a smart and efficient quality of movement that allows athletes to harness untapped power to throw the ball farther, run faster and jump higher “” all while preventing injury.
Athletics require dynamic, multi-dimensional movement of our bodies. In sports, movements are complicated and two-dimensional. Tackling and hitting require rotation and torquing in any given direction with force. This means that two-dimensional bicep or hamstring curls or crunches don’t translate well into the complex movements needed for the power and agility of elite athletics. Specialized spring-resistant Pilates machines (Reformer, Trapeze Table, Wunda Chair) enable athletes to train dynamically, target the body’s deep muscles that stabilize the joints and build strength in multiple planes and alignments.
This conditioning seamlessly translates to success at throwing a ball effectively, swinging a bat, dismounting off of an apparatus, sprinting towards home or defying injury from a hard hit.
Strength and flexibility also determine speed. You may have a very fast gait, but if your muscles are tightly bound, your stride will be shorter than its potential. And tight muscles often lead to injury which can haunt an athlete for an entire career or force early retirement.
Pilates can help prevent injuries, and can improve on strength, flexibility and speed after returning from injury. And Pilates training is a phenomenal resource for plyometrics. While decreasing the effects of gravity during jumping drills, athletes are able to re-pattern inefficient body mechanics that are slowing them down and dampening their power.
Pilates takes an athlete’s already-dynamic body and mind and transforms it from the inside out. What happens when you increase deep core strength, flexibility, balance, and new movement possibilities? An athlete’s game goes through the roof.
Tonya Marie Amos was a competitive gymnast and danced professionally in New York for 15 years. She owns Aspire Pilates Center in Concord (925-680-4400) where she specializes in those recovering from injury, athletes and dancers. She is a fully certified Master Pilates instructor (certified to train and certify instructors) who has enjoyed suspending her Olympic swimmer from the Trapeze Table to improve her stroke, getting her U.S. Open Jiu-Jitsu Champion to literally “kick butt,” and her professional baseball and football players to outrun the competition. Learn more at www.AspirePilatesCenter.com